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Final Destination (2000, Devon Sawa, Ali Larter)

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After the success of Scream , Halloween and I Know What You Did Last Summer , the plot permutations of what one critic called ‘Dead Teenager Movies’ began to become a little too similar, but Final Destination, from X-Files veteran James Wong, manages to be smart and, at times, decidedly droll.

Using a young cast largely drawn from TV and bit appearances in films, the film opens as a high school class is boarding a plane en route to Paris. Alex (Devon Sawa), a nervous flyer, suddenly has a terrifyingly realistic vision of the plane exploding in flight and ends up, with five other students and a teacher, being ejected from the flight; as they sit in the airport, the plane explodes just after takeoff.

But Death is not so easily cheated of his full quota and, using some of the most ingenious natural methods available in any home, begins to pick them off, one by one. Alex realises there is a pattern to the deaths, based on where the survivors were seated on the plane, and tries to work out how to break it and therefore cheat death. But along the way, there are some suitably ingenious deaths (including a superb decapitation) and, at the same time, some intense discussions about fate, existence and doom.

The film also enjoys some in jokes, with characters called Chaney, Schreck and Murnau, the welcoming music onto the doomed plane coming from the late John Denver, and the scene where Alex, alone in a cabin, begins to put corks over every sharp object and tapes down anything that might be a threat, a lesson to every horror filmmaker.

production details
USA | 98 minutes | 2000

Director: James Wong
Script: Jeffrey Reddick, James Wong, Glen Morgan, Burpo,

cast
Ali Larter as Clear Rivers
Roger Guenveur Smith as Agent Schreck
Brendan Fehr as George Waggner
Devon Sawa as Alex Chance Browning
Tony Todd as William Bludworth
Daniel Roebuck as Agent Weine
Alessandro Juliani as Guitar Player in Final Paris Scene (uncredited)
Kerr Smith as Carter Horton
Seann William Scott as Billy Hitchcock
Kristen Cloke as Valerie Lewton
Chad Donella as Tod Waggner
Amanda Detmer as Terry Chaney
Lisa Marie Caruk as Christa Marsh
Fred Keating as Howard Seigel
Forbes Angus as Larry Murnau
Christine Chatelain as Blake Dreyer
Barbara Tyson as Barbara Brownig
Robert Wisden as Ken Browning
P. Lynn Johnson as Mrs. Waggner
Larry Gilman as Mr. Waggner
Guy Fauchon as Hare Krishna
Randy Stone as Flight Attendant
Mark Holden as Co-Pilot
Marrett Green as TV News Anchor
John Hainsworth as Minister
Pete Atherton as Student Singer
Nicole Robert as Ticket Clerk
Kristina Matisic as Reporter
Troy Yorke as Lou Gehrig’s Man (uncredited)